Every semester, the creative writing program at Arizona State University hosts distinguished authors to give readings of their work as part of the MFA Reading Series. This semester, Pamela Uschuck, William Pitt Root, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, and Michael Martone have been invited to share their work on the ASU campus. The upcoming reading on October 23rd will be by esteemed poet, essayist, and scholar Rachel Blau DuPlessis.
DuPlessis is arguably most well-known for Drafts, a long poem that has taken 26 years and 5 books of collected poems to complete. Her newest book, Surge: Drafts 96-114, was published this March and brings the work to a conclusion. The project, which has been compared to T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, is a collection of poem “drafts” that ultimately combine to form one long poem. The poems are organized into groups of 19, with each group covering the same themes in the same order, and utilize a number of genres. In an interview with Hayden’s Ferry, Rachel Blau DuPlessis emphasized that the poems can be read individually or with the work as a whole. She said, “Poems can also be read in any order. But they are joined together by all being ‘drafts’.”
Along with being a poet, Rachel Blau DuPlesiss is a feminist scholar and critic. She has published several works of feminist critique, with the most recent being Purple Passages: Pound, Eliot, Zukofsky, Olson, Creeley and the Ends of Patriarchal Poetry. This work is the third book in a feminist critical series on poetry. DuPlessis’ background is evident in her poetry, which is rich in feminist themes. In the aforementioned interview she says, “…my poems are work written by me—and that ‘me’ is a lot of social and political things (“identities”) all mixed up together, including gender information, gender feelings (sometimes passionate ones) and observations.” As a part of her identity, feminism in naturally tied into her work as a poet.
Rachel Blau DuPlesiss will be reading her work in the Social Sciences Building, room 109, at noon on Wednesday, October 23. Later that day, DuPlessis will be giving a lecture, “Manifesting Literary Feminisms: A Conversation with Rachel Blau DuPlessis” at 4:30 pm, also in the Social Sciences Building, room 109. For more information on either event, visit the College of Liberal Arts and Science’s website. To prepare for this event, you can attend a master class by Cynthia Hogue on Rachel Blau DuPlessis. This class will be held on October 16. For further details, email Cynthia Hogue at Cynthia.Hogue@asu.edu.